Thanksgiving ‘erased’ progress against virus. Now let’s talk about Christmas (POLL)

Benton-Franklin health officer asks people to "carefully weigh the risks of their actions against their values."
Christmas Tree

Ornaments hang from a tree during the 2020 Christmas preview at the White House, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The health officer for the greater Tri-Cities area said Thursday that Thanksgiving gatherings further spread COVID-19 but the community can turn things around this holiday season.

The question is: will enough people change their Christmas traditions in order to bend the epidemic curve?

“Towards the end of November, we had seen an improvement related to limitations in the places where people could gather,” Dr. Amy Person explained during a telebriefing with reporters. “What we have seen in early December, as we anticipated, is that the effect of Thanksgiving has erased a large degree of the progress we had made through that point.”

Dr. Person clarified the effect was an increase in coronavirus disease numbers and disease activity. Total confirmed cases now stand at 16,815 with 209 deaths in Benton and Franklin counties.

“We know that people are tired of doing what they need to do. They’re tired of being away from their families, from spending time with their friends, but we do need as a community to try to continue to keep our masks on, to remain physically distant from one another and not to gather outside of the home so that we can again bring that disease activity down.”

The community, she said, should work to reduce the number of people being infected and, more importantly, to reduce the number of people who are hospitalized and dying from COVID-19.

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“As our December holidays are upcoming, we know, again, those are not going to look the same. We are asking individuals to carefully weigh the risks of their actions against their values, remembering also that everything we do as individuals, as families, as organizations affects others in this community,” Dr. Person said. “It’s important for us to remember that the choices that we are making can have an impact, and that even with our disease rates as high as they are, we can see a significant turnaround in a short period of time.”

“In July, we were able to drop rates by over 50% in a month’s time by the choices that people made. There’s no reason we can’t see that same kind of dramatic improvement, even in December, if people make those same kinds of choices.”

RELATED: Nearly 2,500 Washington restaurants permanently closed in first six months of pandemic

RELATED: Gov. Inslee extends restrictions through January 4

Wednesday coronavirus update: Benton/Franklin Co. add 258 cases

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